Nepal: Two weeks in and not sick yet

It’s been over two weeks and I’m yet to feel sick. It’s a bit of a surprise to all really. All those sand pies and dirt desserts I had as a child must have built up my immune system. Yesterday, a second volunteer from Australia arrived. His name is Ben, he is 22, and surprisingly enough he is from North Balwyn. It is nice to see another Australian 🙂

Already it seems like months have gone by. It’s amazing how quickly you can adapt to something so different. I am starting to learn directions, where I am and where I need to go. I’m slowly picking up the language. Most importantly, I can now order tea and coffee with no sugar. Why does all Nepali tea and coffee come with three sugars by default?

My host family is great! I live with Shanti, her husband Prakesh, their two children and their housemaid. My bedroom is upstairs on the fourth floor and has it’s own ensuite (think small room with a squat toilet and a bucket for a shower) and balcony.

My bedroom in Nepal
My bedroom in Nepal

I’ve been taken on a quick visit to many of the tourist sites in Kathmandu including Pashupatinath, Kathmandu Durbar Square, the Monkey Temple (Swayambhunath), Boudnath (Bouddha) and Thamel. I’m looking forward to spending more time at them to observe local cultures and learn more about the history and religion of each one.

Swayambhunath
Swayambhunath

I’ve also travelled to Patan a couple of times. Patan is the second biggest city in Nepal, separated from Kathmandu only by a river. The Durbar Square (King’s Square) has several gorgeous old pagoda style temples with three or four storeys. There is also a couple of five story pagoda temples in the immediate area.

Me in front of Durbar Square, Patan
Durban square, Patan

Last Monday, Puku – one of the coordinator’s nephews – took me up into the hills on his motorbike and officially out of the Kathmandu Valley. The views are similar to the Swiss Alps, however the old Nepali style houses and absolute lack of traffic for miles and miles were amazing.

I’m also settling into my placements. I’m working at two schools and one orphanage over five days. The children are all really nice and friendly and amazed to see a white person…let alone an Australian. Almost instantly, I’ve fallen in love with two of the youngest at the orphanage – Laxmi and Puja – who have no family and rely on the orphanage for food, shelter and education.

Laxmi and Puja - my favourite girls at the orphanage
Laxmi and Puja

Every time I walk into the orphanage, all the children come running towards me and I can’t move because they are hanging on to my legs and arms. There is about 35 children ranging from age 4 to age 13, and kindergarten through to class 7. I’ve been helping the older ones with their homework (most of the work for the older classes needs to be done in English, except Nepali of course). I’ve also been teaching the younger ones some English, we learnt “Heads and Shoulders” and a simple song along the lines of “walking walking walking walking hop hop hop hop hop hop running running running now we stop” (to “I am Sleeping”). Every time I get there now they all start singing them and doing the actions. Good news is that they now know the English for all of their body parts 🙂

On Saturday they had some visitors, including a Nepali couple with two bags of chocolates. I have never seen so many children rush into the same spot at the same time. We ended up having to rescue some crying ‘littlens’ and take some chocolate and hand them out to them separately.

At one of my schools, I have been thrown into a class 5 English room for three days a week as well as computer studies for classes 3, 4 and 5 (although computer studies appears to be more of a free time class). I’m also reading to the little children in classes 1 and 2. I’m relief teaching at the other school, basically being thrown into teaching whatever the class is doing at the time with no warning and no preparation. It’s a bit of a challenge but I’m sure I’ll get used to it. Makes it easier when the view from the school buildings looks like this.